What to Include in a Teacher Portfolio

Updated on April 2, 2018
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Jule Romans is an experienced teacher educator. She has mentored many new teachers over the course of her 25-year career in education.

What Should I Include in My Teacher Portfolio?

Base Elements of a Teacher Portfolio

As a a bare beginning, a teacher portfolio should include:

  • An attractive and professional cover
  • An accurate table of contents
  • Your teaching resume
  • Your teaching philosophy
  • Three letters of recommendation

The cover should be high quality, professional, clean, and appropriately inviting to the reader. The table of contents should help your reader find desired information about you in your portfolio.

Resume, Letters, and Transcripts

Your resume should be detailed, thorough, well organized, and in a commonly accepted format. The teaching philosophy should be yours alone, and reflect an understanding of current or classic educational theories.

Letters of recommendation may be from supervising teachers, professors, or anyone who has had an opportunity to evaluate your potential as a teacher.

These items combined with transcripts of your grades provide a quick picture of your qualities and would make a good introduction to your portfolio.

Your teaching portfolio should attract attention, but not be too busy or overwhelming. A little creativity goes a long way.

The Teacher Portfolio Cover

The cover of your portfolio is the first thing readers will see. It should attract attention, but not be too busy or overwhelming. A little creativity goes a long way.

The cover is the place where an important balance must be found. Although your portfolio is to give readers a sense of how you will interact with students, it is not created for students. It is created for adults. Keeping this in mind is very important.

Remember Your Audience

It is not only created adults, but for very busy adults who may or may not have a great deal of time to examine your work. The cover should not overwhelm them with too much detail. It should not distract them with too many decorations. It should reflect how you intend to present yourself to other professionals, not to children.

Teacher Portfolio Table of Contents

The table of contents is key to helping your readers locate the information they need. It should be very reader-friendly, keeping in mind that the readers do not know much about you and probably need guidance in how to read your work.

A Table of Contents is Designed for Ease of Reading

The table of contents should list the sections of your portfolio, and help the reader locate them easily. Simple listing of sections and page numbers is not always enough.

The name of each section should clearly indicate what is included in that section. The page numbers listed should be easily located with only ONE turn of a page. A reader should not have to search through your portfolio to find the pages that are listed in your table of contents.

If you think of how your portfolio will be evaluated, and try to translate that into a clear and detailed table of contents that is easy to navigate, your portfolio will probably make an outstanding first impression.

A teacher’s resume is not a business resume. The standard rule of a single page does not apply in this case. Some of the best teachers’ resumes are up to four pages long.

Include a Resume in Your Teaching Portfolio

Your resume is important and complex enough that describing it could take an entire section of its own. However, for now, keep these ideas in mind when developing your resume.

A Teacher's Resume Is Different

A teacher’s resume is not a business resume. The standard rule of a single page does not apply in this case. Some of the best teachers’ resumes are up to four pages long. If they are organized correctly, readers can easily select the information they need, and get a whole picture of your qualifications.

Where the portfolio provides a total picture of you as a teacher, the resume provides a total picture of your teaching qualifications. All items should be focused on that.

Teaching experience, related work experience, education, publications, awards, honors, and complete reference contact information are usually all included in a teacher’s resume.

The teaching philosophy must be completely original and written entirely by you. Copying and pasting any portion of a teaching philosophy from another source is plagiarism.

State a Clear Teaching Philosophy in the Portfolio

The teaching philosophy must be completely original and written entirely by you. Copying and pasting any portion of a teaching philosophy from another source is plagiarism.

The Purpose of Including Teaching Philosophy in the Portfolio

When someone reads your teaching philosophy, they should learn three things: how well you can write, how well-informed you are about your profession, and how well you can intellectually integrate educational theory and practice.

Thus, you must write and think carefully about this. Some readers may not be interested in your educational philosophy. Some readers may turn to that first.

In either case, it’s important that the philosophy be thoughtful, not copied or borrowed, and your own original work.

At least three letters of recommendation should be included in your teaching portfolio.

Letters of Recommendation in the Teacher Portfolio

Securing letters of recommendation is a time-consuming process,but it is well worth the investment of time.

Provide at Least Three Letters of Recommendation

At least three letters of recommendation should be included in your teaching portfolio. Those letters should be from people who are qualified to speak to your potential as a teacher.

Field experience instructors and on-campus instructors are some of the best choices. Students, parents of students, and former supervisors in other positions you have held might also be good choices under certain circumstances.

Plan Wisely, Choose Carefully

Plan in plenty of time to request the letters and expect some delays in receiving them. It may take from a few days to a few weeks for someone to write and send your letter. Start asking for letters many weeks in advance.

All items should be appropriate to your teaching level. Graphics, font size, ink and paper should reflect either an elementary or secondary focus. Too many (or the wrong kind) of graphics for your grade level can be a distraction and reduce the overall effect of your portfolio.

In addition to the basics, you will want to include items and examples that will show off your best work as a teacher. They may be photos, student work examples, projects, or many other formats.

Include Supporting Items in a Teacher Portfolio

In addition to the basics, you will want to include items and examples that will show off your best work as a teacher. Some people call these items artifacts, because there are so many different kinds of items. Many artifacts are not simply written pieces of paper. They may be photos, student work examples, projects, or many other formats.

For example, your teacher portfolio might include:

  • Personal information
  • Classroom experience
  • Extracurricular experience
  • Publications (or unpublished papers and writing)
  • Awards
  • Student interactions
  • Content area experience (based on your major and minor)
  • Community involvement (related to teaching)
  • Student work samples
  • Unit and lesson plans

Make your selections carefully, and in a systematic manner. DO NOT try to include all items or simply place them in the order listed. Avoid “scrapbooking.” Several items may be handwritten, or in unusual formats. Present them in a simple, clear, direct manner, with an emphasis on professional, understated appearance.

Create an organization that clearly represents your own perspective and professional identity. Choose wisely. Remember that some items may take longer than others to create or compile..

Demonstrate Capabilities in Your Teacher Portfolio

Sometimes, you may want to select items that demonstrate your abilities. These items will be unique to each situation.

For example, you may want to select items that demonstrate that you have skills in some of the following areas:

  • Student achievement
  • Appreciation of all the liberal arts
  • An ability to reflect critically
  • Classroom management skills
  • Involvement in continuous learning
  • Encouragement of students at all academic levels
  • Technology
  • Understanding of socio-economic needs
  • Knowledge of subject matter
  • Knowledge of teaching methods

No one person will have ALL these qualities, but you can most likely find examples that support many of them.

Create an organization that clearly represents your own perspective and professional identity. Remember, you may be using several of the same or similar items to represent different aspect of your abilities. Choose wisely. Some items may take longer than others to create or compile..


Teacher Portfolios: What Employers Want

In your teacher portfolio, employers will want to see:

  1. An understanding and appreciation of the liberal arts (the humanities, the social sciences, the mathematical and natural sciences, and the arts)
  2. A commitment to student learning and achievement
  3. Knowledge of subject matter and pedagogy
  4. The ability to manage and monitor student learning, based on best practice
  5. The ability to systematically organize teaching practices and learn from experiences,
  6. Commitment and willingness to participate in learning communities
  7. An ability to use information age learning and technology operations and concepts to enhance learning and personal/professional productivity


Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Jule Romans

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